Reba McEntire Speaks Out About Replacing Blake Shelton on ‘The Voice’ and If She’ll Be Mean Judge

Reba McEntire is feeling the pressure as she joins The Voice for its upcoming 24th season, stepping into the spot that Blake Shelton occupied for 23 seasons before her.

“It’s a lot of pressure because nobody can replace Blake Shelton. He’s a huge personality and a wonderful person,” the country superstar said in a new interview with Newsweek. “So I’m just getting in there trying to have fun and represent country music as best I can.”

Despite the pressure, McEntire said so far, she is thoroughly enjoying the experience, noting, “It’s a well-oiled machine, so getting in at this time is marvelous. Everybody knows the game plan, from the crew, the producers. Everybody on the show is so nice, so sweet, and have been so helpful. I’m loving it.”

As for what style of coach viewers should expect from McEntire, that remains to be seen. But one thing she made clear is that she will not be “mean.” In fact, she explained that was the reason she initially turned down the role back when The Voice was in its conception stages.

“I can’t be a mean Judge,” she stated. “I mean, when I turned it down 15 years ago, when they wanted me to do The Voice, I said, ‘I can’t tell anybody that they’re horrible.’ I can’t say to somebody, ‘Well, is your mama gonna meet you at the bus station? Because you’re going home.’ I can’t do that.”

However, the three-time Grammy winner said she’s received some amazing advice from her fellow coaches, John Legend, Gwen Stefani, and Niall Horan, on how to let down the unsuccessful auditionees gently.

“I learn from John, Gwen, and Niall. Every day that we’re working on The Voice, I’m learning more from them how to let ’em down easy if they don’t get picked up, coach ’em, and if you can give them any advice whatsoever,” she shared.

“Like if none of the coaches turn around, they’re going home immediately. And so it’s good just to say, ‘If you want to come back again, try it again next season, maybe a song that suits you, one that you’re really comfortable with and that really shows your talent,’ give them advice and encourage them to come back.”

As for how McEntire herself would do as an auditionee on The Voice, she remained humble, saying, “I don’t think anybody would turn around for me. Honestly, I don’t. If they would, I’d be thrilled to pieces.”

“But what an opportunity these kids are having, and some of [them] aren’t kids. Some are 16, 17 years old, and some people that come on The Voice are in their 30s and want to give it a go and are having fun with it,” she added. “But what an opportunity to be seen by that many people all over the world for just a few minutes, whereas it would have taken me years at my concert levels to get in front of that many people.”

The Voice, Season 24, Premiere, Monday, September 25, at 8 pm ET/PT, NBC

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